Covid 19 update

Do we remember the days when we could walk into a supermarket with a smile instead of a mask.

Or as it may be remembered, “When I was your age…”

We all have been dealing with the frustration, fear and uncertainty that the pandemic of the Covid 19 virus, and its mutations, has brought with it. The confusion for many of us starts with the names and being able to link what is being talked about back to Covid 19.

The various mutations or variants, which are simply a different form of the Covid 19 virus, have different names as the virus has changed in some way. Covid 19, Delta and Omicron are currently the names we have heard in New Zealand for variants of Covid 19.

We are experiencing constant changes as the needs of the world, and for us New Zealand, moves along in this journey. Keeping up with the most current guidelines can be challenging and confusing as levels, traffic lights and phases morph into each other.

Read more CM Covid Update

Clinical guidance to health professionals

Please find below a link to the clinical guidance that the MoH has developed (with the Donald Beasley Institute) for health professionals responding to patients with an intellectual disability. Whilst it has been developed within a COVID-19 context, it obviously has a much broader application.

They are also developing similar guidelines for autistic people.

Advice for Health Professionals

Information from MSD on medical certificates, disability allowance, additional funding …

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has made some temporary changes to document requirements as part of the COVID-19 response. The changes are helping to make things easier for people and ensure they continue to receive support during this time.

Here is an overview of some key changes they’ve made:

No medical certificate renewals for existing clients

People already getting Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support or Supported Living Payment don’t need to provide another medical certificate. They’ll continue to be paid as normal. This includes the Work Capacity Medical Certificate.

No medical certificates for new clients

For now, MSD won’t ask people to go get a medical certificate if they have no other reason to consult a health practitioner.

However, if someone already has a medical certificate, MSD will use this in their application.

When a person doesn’t have any of the usual medical verification (for example a Medical Certificate or Specialist reports), MSD will look at other options like granting an Emergency Benefit so they can still get support.

Temporary changes for Disability Allowance

People applying for the Disability Allowance for the first time, or an existing client with a new or increased costs, won’t need to provide receipts or invoices to verify these costs.

They also won’t need to provide a medical certificate to verify their eligibility and costs.

However the eligibility criteria for Disability Allowance haven’t changed so applications for items such as unfunded medications or services will need evidence of essential need to qualify for assistance.

Deferring reviews

For now, there will be no annual reviews (for example for Disability Allowance or Child Disability Allowance) or social housing reviews. This means if someone

would normally have a review, they won’t need to do anything – they’ll continue getting paid.

More information

The best place to go for the latest information on ways MSD can help is their website. Go to

MSD makes additional funding available …

The Government has made additional funding available to support the wellbeing of disabled people including people with health and mental health conditions by trying to limit the impacts of anxiety and loneliness during the Covid-19 response. This funding is to enable organisations to continue providing support during alert level 4, alert level 3 and any periods of self-isolation.

How can the funding be used?

Organisations can use the funding to:

  • employ additional staff to provide regular support to disabled people and their families/whanau. This support can be provided through a variety of channels including face to face (for essential service providers and following Ministry of Health Guidelines) email, Facebook, texts or phone calls
  • develop resources to provide activities for people at home. This can include setting up and managing private Facebook groups, developing YouTube videos, video conferencing, creating and sending hard copy activity packs, sending art supplies and supporting the develop of peer support networks. We’ve pulled together some ideas from MSD funded providers and have attached them to this email.

Who is the funding for?

Priority will be given to funding organisations supporting disabled people including people with health or mental health conditions who:

  • live alone
  • live with family/whanau
  • are in Contract Board
  • live in a flat; or
  • live in rural or isolated areas

Funding amount

If your application meets the funding criteria you will receive a one of payment of $18,500. You may receive more if you are supporting a large number of people in the priority groups. The funding will be paid as a lump sum.


You will be asked to provide a brief report detailing how you have used the funding in early July.

How to apply:

Complete the attached form and send it to We will review your application and get back to you if we need more information.

Information sheet for disabled people and family/whānau …

Below is a link is to an information sheet for disabled people and family/whānau and an information sheet for residential care providers about COVID-19.  This is located on the MoH website. The information sheets are in Word and PDF format.

COVID-19 – information for disabled people and residential care providers

Where to go to for health advice on COVID-19 …

This information is to provide an update to the disability community and sector on COVID-19.

We will have regular updates about COVID-19 with disability relevant information to make it easy to keep up to date with the latest information and developments.

I would like to assure you that the Disability Directorate is taking the response to COVID-19 very seriously. Keeping individuals, families and whānau, and communities safe and healthy in the current global environment is a key priority for us.

We recognise that some disabled people may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Some disabled people and their families and whānau may be significantly impacted if their care and support workers get COVID-19. Therefore, we are focused on ensuring continuity of supports for disabled people and working to ensure the whole of government response to COVID-19 meets the needs of disabled people.

Last week we established a COVID-19 Disability Sector Leadership Response Group who are working with us closely to plan and implement our response to COVID-19. This group involves disabled people, unions, providers, and officials coming together to identify and work through disability-specific COVID-19 issues.

We have new information sheets for disabled people and their family and whānau, and providers with more information about what to do to keep yourself safe and well, and what to do if you’re sick.  These will be available on our website tomorrow, Tuesday, 17 March 2020 at:  We are developing more information all the time and will keep you posted when it becomes available. For example, we are working on advice about leave provisions for staff, and protections for vulnerable populations.

We are urging people to continue to follow key health advice:

·        Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

·        Follow the Prime Minister’s advice to stop hand shakes, hugs and hongi

·        Avoid contact with people who are feeling unwell or may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

·        If you are feeling unwell at all, even if you think it’s just a cough or a cold, stay at home.

·        The Ministry of Health website is constantly updated with the latest health advice at

You and your family and whānau would normally take extra precautions during winter to stop yourselves getting sick, so it is a good idea to start those now. This could include making sure all medication is up to date and you have some spare at home, buying a little extra non-perishable food at each grocery shop, and making sure you have some close family, whānau, or friends you can reach out to for support.

Please distribute this, and any other information you get from us, to disabled people, families and whānau, carers, and staff as appropriate for your organisation.

For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS. For advice about general government support you can check out

If you have questions about your disability supports in relation to COVID-19 then contact your disability support provider, individualised funding host provider, or your NASC All disability providers should be planning to ensure services continue. 

Adri Isbister, Deputy Director-General, Disability (Ministry of Health)